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Sociocultural Inclusion Program


Sociocultural project “Inclusion” is a unique creative project for social and psychological rehabilitation of children having experienced trauma. The project’s primary aim is to deflect the perception of children away from the negative aspects of their lives towards music and dance, to develop their creativity and reveal their emotional depth, thus, helping them to overcome their problems and fears.

The project promotes reintegration of children into society using various artistic means (acting, singing, dancing, etc.) combined with athletics and studies of social issues. It aims to involve children from different backgrounds and with different interests and talents to create a musical performance about kindness and compassion.


Involvement in art (music, dance, theatre performance, and film-making) is the perfect way for children who have experienced psychological traumas to discover themselves, their characters and their artistic talents. It is widely known that use of art for healing is extremely effective. Music is capable of eliciting emotions and transcending language with its rhythms, vibrations, and beats. Art can offer the child an alternative means of communication, which does not involve speaking. The psychologists at our Centre often encounter cases when the child refuses to talk about his/her problems and difficult experience such as separation from biological parents, deprivation of home due to the military activities in the east of Ukraine and as a consequence their nightmares, inability to integrate into society, problems at school, etc. The project, therefore, is needed for children’s reintegration into society and for helping them to deal with their traumatic experiences.


The main target audience is children from the “Our Kids” Centre: children in need, children deprived of parental care and children who happen to be in difficult situations. The project also involves many children from the local community, ATO refugees and other social kids who want to participate in the project.


The “Inclusion” project is implemented in three cycles, each lasting nine months and ending with a special artistic performance. Each cycle involves around 70 – 100 children and young people who work together with international, special educators and psychologists. The result of the first cycle (2012-2013) was the performance “Venice. City of Hope.” The second cycle ended with the performance “On the Other Side of the Sun” in 2015. Both plays are recorded on DVDs. At the end of 2018, the final part of the project will take place. All of the performances are based on the books and drawings of Czech author and illustrator of children’s books Štěpán Zavřel.

Thanks to our project, we will create a platform for closer collaboration of cultural and social institutions in the fields of child and youth welfare in Ukraine.


The third cycle of the project with the final performance “Nonno Tommaso” based on the book of the same name by Štěpán Zavřel has started in February, 2018. The children started their choir lessons with Olena Astasheva, teacher of choir and vocal, Art Director of the Kyiv Children’s Choir “Shchedryk” and Ihor Orlov, the accompanier. Olena and Ihor have been coming to the Center twice a week to give a two-hour practice. The children absolutely adore these two hours. 15-20 kids from the Center as well as children from the local community attend the choir practices regularly.

Besides music classes, we introduced a drawing class with two professional artists who come to the Center once a week. The artists Olena Tykhoniuk and Oleg Gryshchenko paint with kids on different topics but try to do it in the style of Štěpán Zavřel.

The intensive rehearsals have been taking place at the Centre since August. For three months, eleven kids, who are the main characters in the show, have been living at our Center in the socio-psychological rehabilitation groups. Our director Iana Gudzenko have been having intense rehearsals with the kids. Ms Gudzenko has significant pedagogical experience. Besides being a director, she teaches drama theatre at the National University of theatre cinema and television. She staged different performances in Ukraine and Germany.

This year, during the third cycle, we have decided to make our children the main characters of the play while their peers – professional actors – will be supporting them by being underparts. Iana started her classes with different techniques to make the children from our Centre more comfortable with themselves. It was a hard and long work. Despite many programs and help at our Centre, some children have deep psychological traumas and fears. Our psychologist Lesia Kuchinska has always been present at the rehearsals. She talked with the kids throughout the whole process about their feeling and fears. Iana has been giving several exercises for children in August and September. From tongues twisters to the exercise where the children have to say different kind compliments to each other. Little by little, the children started to open up. Iana and the children worked together on the script, adjusting the characters. The book “Nonno Tommaso” brings up a painful subject to the kids – deprivation of parents. Therefore, some adjustments had to be made to the plot in order not to harm the sociocultural rehabilitation process for the children.

Besides acting, drawing, vocal and music classes, we try to blend in the schedule new and exciting activities. In September we did a joint project with the Bila Tserkva Puppet Children’s theatre. Twenty little puppeteers came to Kyiv to show their performance to our kids and to give them a workshop. The children absolutely loved it. Working with puppets are very important in the rehabilitation process. They can help develop communication. Especially for small kids, the puppets provide a safe environment when he or she can speak up freely about his or her frightening experiences from the past.

We have also introduced a new segment in the Inclusion project – a so-called “Opera workshop studio” led by Elizaveta Olyinyk, a director assistant. Liza has an MA degree in Philosophy and Philology from the Johannes Gutenberg-Universitat Mainz and she decided to hold these workshops with kids on a weekly basis to teach them how to understand opera. Liza comes up with different games that teach kids complicated operas of Verdi or operas based on works of Shakespeare. This way the children are taught not only how to understand but also to love opera.

Our team that consists of director Iana Gudzenko, director assistant Elizaveta Olyinyk, psychologist Lesia Kuchinska, artists Olena Tykhoniuk and Oleg Gryshchenko, choirmaster Olena Astasheva and accompanier Ihor Orlov together with professional actors from theatre and dance academy are doing a great job, helping the children with traumas to overcome their fears, to stand up and to speak for themselves. The job is not easy but it is definitely worth it seeing how our kids are enjoying the process. They can listen to Iana for hours, playing, acting, improvising, sharing their visions, sometimes goofing around but in the end they know that they have leading roles not only in this play but also in their lives.